Susan Thacker-Gwaltney headshot

Susan Thacker-Gwaltney

Assistant Professor
Unit: School of Education and Human Development
Department: School of Education and Human Development
Office location and address
Newport News Center
Richmond, Virginia 23218
Ph.D., University of Virginia, 2015
M.Ed., College of William & Mary, 1989
B.A., College of William & Mary, 1988

I advise and teach master's level students taking graduate reading education courses off-grounds in the Tidewater region of Virginia.  My current job includes teaching graduate reading education courses, e.g., Word Study, Foundations of Reading, and clinical courses in the diagnosis & remediation of reading difficulties.  I also coordinate noncredit literacy-related professional development with school districts statewide.  As part of this work, I developed a four-day Academy for Teachers of Struggling Readers, along with various trainings and workshops related to early reading instruction.  I also coordinate and conduct audits for schools and districts seeking information about the relative strengths and weak areas of their literacy programs.

Prior to working at the university, I was a special educator working with students with Emotional/Behavioral Disorders for 7 years and worked for five years as a Book Buddies Coordinator in Charlottesville City Schools. 

My research interests center on early reading intervention in literacy learning and examining the impact of Response to Intervention frameworks on student achievement.

EDNC 4501: Literacy Academy
This four-day academy is designed for educators working with struggling readers in grades K-12. It provides information for teaching struggling readers to read and write. Materials used focus on literacy assessment and intervention techniques. Participants complete homework assignments as part of the academy requirements. Upon successful completion, participants earn a certificate of attendance for 30 contact hours of professional development.
EDNC 4509: Book Buddies: A Tutorial Model for Reading Intervention
The Book Buddies training gives guidelines for running a successful tutoring program in the primary grades. The community-based, one-on-one intervention program features individualized lessons based on ongoing assessment. Reading teachers plan instruction, train tutors, and supervise each lesson. The course content was developed through reading research at the McGuffey Reading Center and from the Book Buddies program in Charlottesville, VA.
EDIS 5221: Reading Foundations
Credits: 3
This course addresses the theoretical foundations of how children learn to read and write as well as the difficulties some children encounter as they progress in their literacy development. This course also addresses basic components of effective literacy programs and instruction (e.g., concepts of print, fluency, phonological awareness, phonics, spelling, writing, comprehension, vocabulary) with attention to diverse needs of students.
EDIS 5730: Diagnosis and Remediation I: Grades PreK-2
Credits: 3
This course is an introduction to both formative and diagnostic literacy assessments used in the preschool through primary grades (emergent and beginning stage readers). Clinical and classroom diagnostic methods along with related instructional implications are explored.
EDIS 5740: Diagnosis & Remediation II: Meaning-Based Assessment & Intervention
Credits: 3
The course begins with an overview of models of reading comprehension and research evidence that describes key influences on reading comprehension (e.g., oral language, decoding/fluency, vocabulary, text structure, and engagement/motivation). It then introduces assessments used to assess language and reading comprehension. Finally, the course provides opportunities to reflect and discuss interventions targeting reading comprehension.
EDIS 7700: Reading Foundations for Diverse Learners
Credits: 3
Reading comprehension requires the development of many subcomponent skills. This course will cover the fundamentals of reading development from emergent literacy through adolescent readers. Particular attention will be drawn toward understanding reading development theory, historical context of reading development and policy, as well as how federal policy impacts reading assessment and instruction.
EDIS 7710: Reading and Writing Across the Content Areas
Credits: 3
This course explores how students' language, experiences, and literacy development play a role in learning content material. Participants will explore the nature and meaning of content literacy and what it means to learn through texts. Theoretical and foundational considerations will frame the exploration, modeling, and instructional practice of comprehension, academic and content vocabulary, and writing to learn strategies.
EDIS 7730: Practicum in Reading Diagnosis
Credits: 3
Introduction to basic and advanced testing procedures used to diagnose reading difficulties of elementary and secondary students and adults. Examines clinical and classroom diagnostic methods, explores theoretical foundations for these practices, and discusses practical applications to the classroom. Corequisite: EDIS 7740.
EDIS 7740: Practicum in Remedial Reading
Credits: 3
Acquaints students with a variety of techniques to support and instruct remedial readers. These techniques address reading, writing, comprehension, and word study across the developmental stages. As a practicum, this class entails teaching either in the McGuffey Reading Clinic under close supervision. Emphasizes appropriate and practical techniques that will meet the needs of specific individuals with specific reading problems. Corequisite: EDIS 7730
EDIS 7751: Literacy Leadership and Coaching
Credits: 3
Literacy Leadership and Coaching is the capstone course for the Reading Masters program. The course has two primary goals: 1) Examine the leadership role of the literacy specialist/coach and 2) Learn how to evaluate the reading program (school level/district level) and implement change. Both of these goals will be met by examining central issues related to literacy instruction, assessment, and leadership.